Wed. Aug 4th, 2021

Spring in winter

Shakir Ahmed

The strange experience of seeing flowers blossom in the month of December is making a disturbing effect on the minds of people across Lower Gojal region especially in Gulmit village. This abnormality in the winter season is not something just coming out of nowhere or more commonly referred by people as climate change effect. As the news is spreading across the social media and more and more people are giving their interpretation about the reasons for this change.

The actual reason or one of the main causes for this abnormality is evident through the science of climate change. This word is mostly used in wrong interpretation for the shifting of weather system in the region. According to recent scientific research by climate and atmospheric scientists across the world, the region is actually affected by localized climate system that prevails in the Western Karakorum Mountains. The global climate change indicates the rise in temperature and as a result melting of glaciers all over the world but this particular region of HKH (Hindukush Karakoram Himalaya) shows a different behavior in this regard. This is known as “Karakorum Anomaly” in the scientific world which has to be explained more in depth with new research as the region lacks basic climate data and research due to extreme weather and harsh topography that has kept the researchers away from this inaccessible world of wonders.

For the understanding of common people this phenomenon can be explained as following with easy examples. The first thing is the location of Gojal that makes it the center of this strange weather system. Gojal region lies in the Western Karakoram part of the whole mountainous north of Pakistan. It is surrounded by Himalaya located in the south, Central Karakorum in the east with Pamir Mountains in the North and Hindukush in the west respectively. The second point is the climate system in the region with warm to cool summers and cool to cold winters. The majority of precipitation is received in the winter in the form of snowfall in Gojal region but according to climate zones it lies in the semi-arid zone of Pakistan. As people are observing the change in the temperature with prolonged summer season in the last few decades with less snow fall in the winters. This is common observation but in actual case the summer season is getting more humid with shifting of precipitation patterns and on the other hand in winters the lowers elevation regions are having rainfall while the higher elevations are receiving more snowfall accumulating in the mountains.

Now coming towards the main reason for the “spring in winter” phenomenon is the altitude difference between the lowers parts of the valleys that are located between 2000 -3000 meters and higher parts above theses altitudes. The lower elevation areas are becoming warmer and causing the precipitation to fall in the form of rainfall which along with the warm ground temperature provides the suitable conditions for plants growth in winters. In contrast to this the regions above 3500 meters will receive precipitation in the form of snowfall which will then increase the masses of the glaciers present in the region. The difference between sharp ranges of elevation in the mountain valleys is the main reason for the unusual behavior of snow and rainfall in the region in winters and as well as in summers. This is the climate change aspect of this particular region and needs more and more research for better understanding of the related systems in the whole region.

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